Cathedral tennis wins South State championship

Published 12:21 am Wednesday, April 8, 2009

NATCHEZ — The Cathedral High School tennis team is back to its winning ways.

The Green Wave took first place in the MHSAA Class 1A South State Tournament on Tuesday with a three-point win against Sacred Heart.

“They work so hard,” coach Marla Beard said. “They’re on the courts at every practice, and they are at Duncan Park practicing for hours and hours when I’m not there. They have all improved so much from the beginning of the season.”

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Five Green Wave players automatically advanced to the state match.

Freshman Madeline Beard will represent Cathedral in girls’ singles, junior Davis Beard and sophomore Cami Willard will play in the girls’ No. 1 doubles and junior Adam Blackwell and freshman Dwain Perkins will play in boys’ No. 2 doubles.

“I’m excited. I always love going to state, and I love going to (Parham Bridges Tennis Club) in Jackson, said Madeline Beard, who is defending her girls singles state title. “I’ll be nervous — that’s a big problem for me — but I usually have to play through it. Once I get started playing, I calm down a little bit.”

Cathedral will take on the north’s second place team this week, and the Green Wave must win for the entire team to advance to the state tournament.

“Last year we were the second place team in South State and ended up being second in state,” Marla Beard said. “Sacred Heart was the winner. We beat the No. 1 team from the north, and Sacred Heart beat the No. 2 team from the north, and Sacred Heart won the team competition. But we beat Sacred Heart (Tuesday), and we expect to beat Sacred Heart again in the state championship.”

The Green Wave won the state championship in 2007 and are hoping for another title, even though the boys’ team lost two seniors from last year.

Seniors Josh Gamberi, Julian Stubbs and William Wilson have had to step up this season for a boys team that struggled last year.

“We have scheduled practices on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, but me and my partner will go out and hit whenever we have time,” Gamberi said. “Since we’re seniors we get out early, so we go hit before practice and on weekends when we can.”

Gamberi and Wilson defeated St. Aloysius’s Salome and Mathis in the No. 2 doubles match Tuesday and are hoping to help the team get to the state tournament.

“Our expectations are high as to what’s to come in the future,” Gamberi said. “Overall, I’m pleased with what we did today and yesterday, that my partner and I beat St. Al. We both play football too, so it’s always good to beat them in something.”

Madeline Beard defeated Emily Nettles of Sacred Heart in girls’ singles, and Davis Beard and Willard defeated Sacred Heart’s Greer Andrews and Ann Mercier in girls No. 1 doubles.

Sarah Beth Willard and Taylor Beesley beat Sacred Heart in girls No. 2 doubles.

Stubbs fell in boys singles to Sacred Heart’s Jack Fitzpatrick, and the duo of Blackwell and Perkins fell to Sacred Heart for boys No. 1 doubles.

Sacred Heart won the mixed doubles bracket against Wesley Callaway and Andrew Carter.

Now they players are all ready for the challenge of the state tournament, even though some might be a bit nervous.

Davis Beard said it will be interesting to play for a doubles title because she’s always competed in the singles bracket.

“It’s something different now every time I go out there,” she said. “I’m very energetic on the court, but I guess that’s because I get so nervous. I kind of channel my nerves into energy.”